Red Sailing Ship wallpaper

sailing

Red Sailing Ship wallpaper

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) Hypocritically Accuses Democrats Of ‘Hysterical’ Reaction To Right-Wing Judicial Activism

Last week, the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices joined together to invalidate a 63-year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections and in the process overruled a 20-year-old precedent permitting such bans on corporate electioneering. “There were principled, narrower paths that a court that was serious about judicial restraint could have taken,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in dissent, essentially “accusing his colleagues of judicial activism,” in the words of the New York Times’ Adam Liptak.

[  ]….Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a former judge and current Judiciary Committee member, called such complaints “hysterical.” He thinks the court’s decision last week was simply an effort to “to protect the Constitution’s First Amendment rights of free speech and association.” But his charge that Democrats are “hysterical” over right-wing judicial activism is odd considering he mused in 2005 that there might be a connection between violent attacks against judges and judges “making political decisions“

Cornyn is a finalists in the national contest among Republicans to see who can be the biggest hypocrite when it comes to “judicial activism”. Though another gotcha moment on the Lies Republicans Tell list, it goes a little deeper then that. Cornyn has done what Republicans consistently do with matters of interpreting the Constitution. They first fawn over a court decision, then back pedal to find some rationalization for same. Their approach to the law is not about carefully considered principles, but much like a spoiled child, getting what they want.

James O’Keefe Mug Shot Lands On New York Times Front Page

“From Hijinks to Handcuffs,” reads the headline, “A Provocative Conservative Movement Born on Campus.” And the former GOP hero is the star from the first sentence: “James O’Keefe III, the guerrilla videographer, advised conservative students this month that they needed to start taking more risks.”

The NYT is doing exactly what Pete Willams did on the Today Show last week portray the four as mere pranksters. Again we have to wonder if the NYT or NBC would be gaming the narrative if four Democratic pranksters had tampered with  the phones of a Republican politician.

When Republicans commit a series of felonies its just a prank

There is at least one conservative out there that does not worship at O’Keefe’s feet, Friend of O’Keefe reportedly objected to past transcript distortion

O’Keefe friend said she “grew disillusioned” with his tactics after being asked to doctor transcript of a past film. A September 18, 2009, New York Times article reported that Liz Farkas, a college friend of O’Keefe’s while at Rutgers University, said she “grew disillusioned” after O’Keefe asked Farkas to help deceptively “edit the script” of a video involving a nurse at the University of California at Los Angeles.

William Jacobson, who writes a conservative blog called Legally Incompetent or something in that price range writes that the president is not allowed to criticize the SCOTUS because it undermines the rule of law. There are only two things to conclude from Jacobson’s self-righteous bonehead remarks – for a lawyer he is amazingly ignorant of history or he is lying to pander to his wingnutty followers. You Disagree With Tony Kennedy (When He Reaches a Conservative Result), You Oppose the Rule of Law

For further comedy, in attempting to claim that Obama’s public disagreement with 5 of the Court’s 9 members was “unprecedented,” Col. Mustard uncritically quotes someone asserting that “[e]ven President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had a lot of grievances with the Court, never mentioned it in any of his State of the Union messages.” This might strike you as implausible in the extreme. Well, I happen to have FDR’s 1937 State of the Union Address right here, and…

It should go without saying, but L,G,&M also notes Republican presidents who have ranted about the SCOTUS. As usual for a conservative legal “expert” Jacobson has it ass-backwards, it’s the court or in specific Justice Alito( another mediocre and confused conservative legal mind) who has impugned the integrity of the Supreme Court and the rule of law, Justice Alito’s conduct and the Court’s credibility

There’s a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address.  It’s vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars.  The Court’s pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations.

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Liquidology Water Drops on Green wallpaper, What if Four Muslim Men Had Tampered with a Republican Senator’s Phones

Liquidology Water Drops on Green wallpaper

Phone tamperer’s Tweet may violate court order

“Govt official concedes no attempt to wiretap,” O’Keefe Tweeted a half-hour before midnight.

Wednesday afternoon, NBC News reported that the judge had instructed O’Keefe not to talk about the case.

Contacted by RAW STORY, Professor Jonathan Turley, a nationally recognized legal expert, concurred, “It could indeed violate an order. It is extremely unwise for clients to be tweeting on their case even without such an order. Mr. O’Keefe has a record of reckless conduct and this would certainly add to that record.”

The rabid Right, perennially blind to the moral and legal concept, that any member of the conservative elite could be held accountable for their crimes is furiously waving their little fig leaf – conspirators not charged with phone tapping. That is true and probably the result of Senator Landrieu’s office staff calling the authorities so quickly. If if that was not their mission – O’Keefe, Dai, Basel and Flanagan are still on the hook for appearing to commit a couple of federal crimes. 1) They represented themselves as telephone company employees. That is a crime. 2) under guise of their false identities they requested access to an office phone on the pretense of checking to see if it worked. It is general practice in one’s home or office not to allow anyone but authorized personnel access to one’s phones for obvious reasons of personal and corporate security. Impersonating someone who has the authority to do so is thus a crime. 3) Basel and Flanagan asked for access to the main telephone closet in continuation of the pretext they were trained and authorized technicians from the phone company. There might be some plausibility to the prank angle had they stopped at using one phone, but access to the interior phone terminals nullifies that angle – which would still find them violated federal laws against illegal access to federal premises and impersonation. 4) Basel and Flanagan confessed they entered the building under false pretenses or per the FBI affidavit “Flanagan and Basel used false and fraudulent pretense attempted to enter, and in fact did enter, real property belonging to the United States for the purpose of willfully and maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States of America”. 5) There were four of them, plus some possible cohorts with knowledge of said crime, so add conspiracy to commit a felony. As of today phone tapping seems to be off the table. That does not matter in the sense that it does not relieve the TamperGate crew facing other serious charges. Legal analyst Jonathan Turley

They have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. However, that is likely only the first charge. There are a host of additional charges, particularly if the prosecutor support the widespread speculation of an alleged conspiracy to wiretap the office of a federal official. It is not clear if the authorities confirmed an effort to wiretap or found such equipment — as opposed to another prank-like video. Moreover, I would expect other possible arrests. Usually there are other individuals with knowledge of such a boneheaded plan. As for Flannagan’s father, he is in Shreveport and thus not necessarily involved in any official capacity. Obviously, he will be insulated from any role in any investigation under standard procedures for conflicts.

Would conservative ideologues such as Patterico , Andrew Brietbart and The Jawa Report be writing this episode off if four Muslim men had done the same thing to a rightwing Senator’s office. Of course not.

Here is Andrew Breitbart ( O’Keefe is on his payroll) losing it in an interview. Andrew still cannot admit or stand the idea that ACORN has been vindicated and with that vindication further proof that James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles are not journalists, but simply corrupt conservative media hogs. Giles, thus far, does not seem to be part of Tampergate, but O’Keefe with this latest crime has established a pattern of felonious behavior. And of course with each act the conservative peanut gallery has tried to help obfuscate the facts and create a narrative at odd with those facts. Trying to portray a 24 year old as a naïve prankster – which also undermines that the right’s version of the ACORN story – is an eye roller. When can we be allowed to take O’Keefe and Big Government seriously as journalists? The first and last Thursday of the month or just when its convenient.

Since they have not been charged with wiretapping or attempting to wiretap corrections should be made for the record in the couple of newspapers that initially got that part of the story wrong. Though there is a caveat in that regard. If, as O’Keefe claims, they just wanted to see if the phones worked properly, what knowledge could they have gained in that regard by entering the main telephone closet.

It did not get much media attention for some reason from the librul media, but conservatives called on rightwingers to jam Democrat Martha Coakley’s phone bank, RedState trying to jam Coakley phone banks! So Brown won, but he won dirty. Manipulating/ jamming phones and phone banks of their opponents is a well known tactic in the conservative dirty tricks playbook, Conyers Pushes for Answers on Phone Jamming Cover-Up

Charles McGee, then the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, was the one who had the genius idea of jamming Democratic phone lines. He called Jim Tobin, the New England Regional Director of the Republican National Committee, to ask for help implementing it. Tobin then called Raymond, whom he knew from working on the 2000 Steve Forbes campaign and who ran a telemarketing consulting firm, to see if he could do the job. Raymond said he could, and things went on from there.

Black and White Forest Light II wallpaper

Black and White Forest Light II wallpaper

From the Washington Independent the charges filed against the budding young conservative leaders of tomorrow,

Four Men Arrested for Entering Government Property Under False Pretenses for the Purpose of Committing a Felony

NEW ORLEANS—JOSEPH BASEL, age 24; ROBERT FLANAGAN, age 24; JAMES O’KEEFE, age 25; and STAN DAI, age 24, were charged in a criminal complaint with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, announced the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

According to the complaint, which was unsealed earlier today, the arrest of FLANAGAN, BASEL, O’KEEFE, and DAI took place after BASEL and O’KEEFE attempted to gain access to the New Orleans office of United States Senator Mary Landrieu on January 25, 2010, while posing as telephone repairmen. According to the complaint, FLANAGAN and BASEL were each dressed in blue denim pants, blue work shirts, light green fluorescent vests, tool belts, and construction-style hard hats when they entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building, located at 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. Once in the building, FLANAGAN and BASEL sought access to the offices of Senator Landrieu. O’KEEFE was already present in the office, holding a cellular phone so as to record FLANAGAN and BASEL. Once inside Senator Landrieu’s reception area, FLANAGAN and BASEL told a member of Senator Landrieu’s staff that they were telephone repairmen, and they requested access to the main telephone at the reception desk. FLANAGAN and BASEL then manipulated the telephone system. FLANAGAN and BASEL next requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system. They were directed to the main office of the United States General Services Administration, also inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building, where they again represented themselves to be employees of the telephone company and stated that they needed to perform repair work in the telephone closet. Both FLANAGAN and BASEL stated that they had left their credentials in their vehicle. In addition, the complaint alleges that O’KEEFE and DAI assisted FLANAGAN and  BASEL in the planning, coordination, and preparation of the operation. The men were apprehended by the United States Marshal’s Service soon thereafter.

If convicted, FLANAGAN, BASEL, O’KEEFE, and DAI each face a maximum term of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.

The United States Attorney’s Office reiterated that the complaint is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation is being conducted by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Deputy Marshals with the United States Marshal’s Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.

O’Keefe has already been found to be a Watergater of his generation of Conservatives. Conservative pundits such as Andrew Breitbart at Big Government treated him as though he was a visionary saint of young conservatives. As far as I know neither O’Keefe or Brietbart has acknowledged the ACORN tapes were doctored and ACORN was vindicated. Being a conservative means never admitting wrong or apologizing. If the actual break in at the Senator’s office was not irony enough Stan Dai seems to have received his intel training courtesy the U.S. tax payer, Is this the same Stan Dai arrested for trying to bug Mary Landrieu’s office? That the rabid Right pundits and bloggers drooled over O’Keefe and M’s Giles was not enough, FLASHBACK: 31 House Republicans Supported Resolution Honoring Alleged Felon James O’Keefe. Not to worry, conservative felons such as Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy went on the lifetime wing-nut welfare plan after their escapades. O’Keefe, Dai, Basel and Flanagan will no doubt get the same free ride for life. It has always paid to be a conservative felon.

Not much of a surprise. Fox is most trusted network according to a poll by Public Policy Polling and posted by Politico,

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) finds an amazing result: The most trusted name in TV news, the only one that more Americans trust than distrust, is…Fox!

Respondents were asked whether they did or did trust the various news outlets. Fox turned out to be the only one with a positive score, at 49% yes to 37% no. CNN was at 39%-41%, NBC 35%-44%, CBS 32%-46%, and ABC 41%-46%.

Study shows Fox News viewers misinformed about war, Iraq, WMD – Many people tune into Fox because it tells them what they want to hear. Many conservatives know the media has a right of center/Beltway conventionalism approach to news. The librul media whining just appeals to the sheeple who insist on creating their own reality – SURVEY: Daily Show/Colbert Viewers Most Knowledgable, Fox News Viewers Rank Lowest

A new study by the Pew Research Study shows that viewers of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have the highest knowledge of national and international affairs, while Fox News viewers rank nearly dead last.

CIA Man Retracts Claim on Waterboarding – A study in “enhanced reporting techniques.”

Well, it’s official now: John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative who affirmed claims that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists, says he didn’t know what he was talking about.

[   ]…After Kiriakou repeated his waterboarding-efficiency claims to the Washington Post, the New York Times, National Public Radio, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and other media organizations last year, a CNN anchor called him “the man of the hour.”

Rough Seas Lighthouse wallpaper

Rough Seas Lighthouse wallpaper

Polls are not completely useless. Sometimes they can give us and politicians a useful snapshot of where the country is. Other times they tell us more about the people answering the question and their perceptions than they do about reality, CNN Poll: Majority of Americans say much of stimulus wasted,

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday morning also indicates that 63 percent of the public feels that projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit…

Feelings are important and perceptions in politics often count too much, so what about some facts. Economists Say Obama stimulus reduced our pain

President Obama’s stimulus package saved jobs — but the government still needs to do more to breathe life into the economy, according to USA TODAY’s quarterly survey of 50 economists.

Unemployment would have hit 10.8% — higher than December’s 10% rate — without Obama’s $787 billion stimulus program, according to the economists’ median estimate. The difference would translate into another 1.2 million lost jobs.

But almost two-thirds of the economists said the government should do more to spur job growth. Suggestions included suspending payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, increasing spending on infrastructure, enacting a flat tax on income and extending jobless benefits.

Even a room full of moderate to liberal Democrats would argue all day about the specifics of how, when and where dollars from the Recovery Act should have or should be spent, but the Recovery Act did prevent a much worse recession then we’re now having.

Today’s report underscores what the roaring stock market has been signaling all month, the worst recession since the Great Depression may soon be over.

Alan Valdes (Trader, Hilliard Lyons): “It’s like early in the year we jumped out of a plane, we were in a free fall, now we have the parachute open and we’re gliding down.”

Today marks four consecutive quarters of negative growth for the U.S. economy, which hasn’t happened in more than 60 years. But today’s improvement from the 6.4% plunge in GDP at the beginning of the year to a mere 1% today was dramatic.

Betsy Stark: “So, after a year of shrinking, do you think the economy is now actually growing again?”

Paul Krugman: “Yeah, things probably growing but, you know, at a snail’s pace. We are in recovery, [but] it’s going to be recovery that feels like recession to most people.”

[…]

Without the intervention, without the bailouts, much as everybody hates them, I think we’d be in Great Depression Part II.”

Kinda good news for Democrats. Republicans remain a divided party,

Our national poll this week found that only 19% of voters in the country are happy with the direction of the Republican Party, compared to 56% who are unhappy with it. Even among independents, who have voted overwhelmingly for Scott Brown, Chris Christie, and Bob McDonnell 58% say they don’t like the direction the GOP is headed in.

Some of the comments at the link are the predictable drivel – trolls pretending to be Democrats who have suddenly become tea baggers because Democrats have become too liberal. We live in a country where the Conservative noise machine defines anyone to the left of Giovanni Gentile as too liberal.

ACORN Still Smeared With “Voter Fraud” In Fox Article

Scott Brown, Fred Thompson and the Authenticity of Trucks. Pin-up boy Brown’s truck was like G.W. Bush’s sudden purchase of a fake ranch in Texas in 2000 ( which he sold as soon as he left office) a fake badge of fake populism. Fake values, fake understanding of the economy, fake concern for families and education and lots of uber nationalism passed off as patriotism. Fake is the only real thing about Conservatives like Brown and Bush.


San Juan Mountains Autumn wallpaper

San Juan Mountains Autumn wallpaper

Still lots of hand wringing and speculation about health care reform. The SEIU – Service Employees International Union took at shot across the Democrats bow. Not a bad thing. A reminder that Democrats, because of Massachusetts or just misguided perceptions in general do have a lesson to learn. Backing off health care reform is not the lesson. That is the lesson from from the party that spent over a trillion dollars on Iraq want everyone to believe. If Democrats listen to Republicans they will have to explain what these past few months have been about and how losing ground on containing costs and protecting poor and middle-class families is not such a bad thing. Giving up means Republicans get to say they won regardless of how substance free that claim would be. On substance conservatives have zero, but they will have the public perception of sticking to their guns and winning. Democrats, despite a hard fight appear to be losers. Give the news cycle a few days to cool down and Democrats should come to the logical conclusion – the only thing standing between them and an historical legislative victory for the average American is the Democrat’s own misguided doubts.

Concluded Stern: “For the 31 million people who don’t have health care, for the 14,000 who lose it every day, for the 120 people who die every day, they elected this Congress to make change, not to set their sights lower when the going gets tough.”

One benefit of being veterans of so many legislative wars is that Reid and Pelosi are not prone to panic,

According to Politico, Reid and Pelosi are meeting this weekend to craft a series of measures, to apparently be passed via reconciliation before the House votes on the Senate bill. If the reconciliation measures pass, the House votes on the Senate bill and, as Benen calls it, “a fiasco for the ages” is avoided.

Ezra Klein is reporting that both Houses are working out reform measures – compromise amendments – that will pass the Senate and House. Health care experts chime in,

Abandoning health care reform–the signature political issue of this administration–would send a message that Democrats are incapable of governing and lead to massive losses in the 2010 election, possibly even in 2012. Such a retreat would also abandon the chance to achieve reforms that millions of Americans across the political spectrum desperately need in these difficult times. Now is the moment for calm and resolute leadership, pressing on toward the goal now within sight.

Anyone that has been in middle or upper management knows what it is like to explain some new twist to a recent change in company policy or procedures. Whether its twenty employees or a hundred there is always a little grumbling and misunderstanding. A little time and patience usually pays off. All this what’da we gonna do now is typical of the average group of people – Congress being a herd of turtles regardless of which party is in the majority – is certainly not immune.

I’m a little surprised at Alex Koppelman writing at Balkinization – such a generally good blog that I’m starting to doubt myself, What’s at stake in the filibuster question

It’s time for him to demand of Democratic Senators that they abolish the Senate filibuster. If he can get 50 of them to agree, then the game will change fundamentally. In a world in which the Senate can act with a simple majority of votes – and remember, that’s the way America was governed for most of its history – the Democrats will have firm control over both houses of Congress, and will be able to pass health care, and address global warming and financial reform as well. Obama will be one of the transformative presidents.

I’d be more then happy if the Senate would simply split the difference and make 55 votes the filibuster proof threshold. Here’s the thing – there are or will be 41 Republicans in the Senate. Then there are 57 Democrats and two Independents ( Lieberman caucuses with Democrats, but we all know he is a party of one – his own ego) . It takes 67 votes to change Senate rules. By my math there is no way that the President or Harry Reid to get 67 votes. The current health care bill can be passed via reconciliation, a route that can be complicated, but it can be done.

Frigid Air Pass Colorado wallpaper, Sometimes Progress Means Ignoring the Peanut Gallery

Frigid Air Pass Colorado wallpaper

Just a few words on this earlier post about Obama, progress and pragmatism. Brought about by this post by Glenn Greenwald who makes some good points while also being too generalized in some of the issues he runs through. Intentioned or not, whether its politics, cultural issues, a celebrity or the team quarterback there is a crowd or sociological phenomenon that Glenn, among others, might not get. Let’s take the quarterback because life is so much like high school. He might be getting criticized based on his passing percentage from one group, while at the same time another group who sees nothing in particular bad about his passing game is passing around negative comments about his personality and character. Two different camps, two different issues with the same person, but the sum total that everyone else hears is a big negative message that lacks nuance, accusations that are sometimes unfair to false. Not that they matter very much in moving elected officials, but the comment sections on news sites provide a good example – a liberal says Obama “sucks” and a tea bagger says Obama “sucks”. It’s a very disappointing level of thought and discourse on both sides. It ripples out into the national consciousness as Obama bad, any alternative is good.  President Obama does seem determined to make things tough at times for people to defend him, He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For –

Health care reform — which is crucial for millions of Americans — hangs in the balance. Progressives are desperately in need of leadership; more specifically, House Democrats need to be told to pass the Senate bill, which isn’t what they wanted but is vastly better than nothing. And what we get from the great progressive hope, the man who was offering hope and change, is this:

I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don’t, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill. Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like.

In short, “Run away, run away”!

Krugman’s interpretation could be off. When Obama says ” Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like”, he could mean the lack of a public option or the lack of a Medicare buy in, but we have another impression. Why, because it does have the sound of President Obama once again twisting himself backwards trying to get any kind of health care reform, even an half empty shell of reform. Someone at the White House notices and releases this response, On Next Steps for Health Reform

Right now there are a lot of discussions going on about the best path forward. But let’s be clear that the President’s preference is to pass a bill that meets the principles he laid out months ago: more stability and security for those who have insurance, affordable coverage options for those who don’t, and lower costs for families, businesses, and governments.

Update: For more specific context, some stories floating around have claimed that the President has decided to pursue a slimmed-down health reform bill.

The “stories” are that the President will settle for are bare bones reform. The White House has only itself to blame if the President himself does not send a clearer, more concrete message. There is a small glimmer of good news. Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad is cautiously open to using reconciliation to solve the HCR conundrum. Which would only require a simple majority of 51 votes. Now is a good time to call and e-mail suggesting your Senator ( regardless of party) read Ezra Klein’s advice – include the medicare buy-in which had 51 votes and expand Medicaid. This is an echo of what several blogs have written, but why not just expand Medicare to 18 years old and up. If Democrats in either House listen to the far Right spin on Massachusetts they are going to be punished at the polls later this year and 2012. The House has already voted for reform with a public-option. Conservatives are going to going to use the ‘they were for it before they were against it’ tact in their campaigns while the Democratic base stays home. If Democrats in both Houses stick with substantial reform they will have something to battle back with. Where were Republicans on trying to save small business – they were against it. Where were Republican’s on spiraling insurance premiums – they were for it. Where were Republicans on protecting your family from financial ruin – Republicans did not care. Jonathan Cohn seems to really get the quarterback phenomenon in regards to Democrats and health-care, Dear Nervous & Frustrated House Democrat…

True, shelving the bill would end the dithering. But it would also solidify the public perceptions that are destroying you now. Listen to the complaints: You’re feckless. You don’t follow through on your promises. You don’t deliver progress. Giving up on the idea that’s been your primary preoccupation for the last year–and, by the way, a primary focus of the last presidential campaign–is not exactly a way to challenge these conclusions.

You’ll have less political capital, making it hard to deliver progress on the economy or anything else. As for reelection, well, ask the congressional Democrats running in 1994 how failing to deliver health care reform worked for them.

Remember, Republicans will blame you for this bill anyway. Unless you’re among the few Democrats who opposed it on the first go-round, you’ve already voted for health care reform. And you can bet the Republicans will let voters know that come November.

I tended to dismiss that round of speculation a few months ago about President Obama caring too much about being liked – a condition that applies to Democratic officials in general. It’s not about being liked it seems, but Democrats worry too much about what Republicans thinks and not enough about the people that get them elected think. One of the strangest bits of political zeitgeist that I’ve seen in the last ten years. Republicans are the deather, birther, INTERPOl conspiracy obsessed, black helicopter sighting peanut gallery. Democrats need to get it through their heads that the party that drove the country off the cliff and is pursuing a rabid far Right tea bagger agenda is not going to vote Democrat regardless of what health reform looks like.

This might also be another glimmer of good news as Obama looks back at his first year and reevaluates, Obama Proposes Volcker-Style Financial Reform

It looks like the political winds have shifted away from Tim Geithner/Larry Summers and toward Paul Volcker/Elizabeth Warren:

Obama to Propose Limits on Risks Taken by Banks, by Jackie Calmes and Louis Uchitelle, NYTimes: President Obama on Thursday will publicly propose giving bank regulators the power to limit the size of the nation’s largest banks and the scope of their risk-taking activities…

The president, for the first time, will throw his weight behind an approach long championed by Paul A. Volcker… The proposal will put limits on bank size and prohibit commercial banks from trading for their own accounts — known as proprietary trading. …

Regular readers probably know that if I could afford to buy Larry Summers a one-way ticket to the country of his choice he’d be on that flight this afternoon. This is the kind of genuine populism – combined with real health-care reform – that will win Democratic seats in the mid-terms. Hopefully more progressive seats.



Old Globe Map 1596, Pragmatic Progress is Still Progress

Old Globe Map 1596

I honestly did not plan it this way, but today’s graphic is a reminder that things change and that even in the age of the internet, substantive change usually does not happen overnight.

Ever seen one of those sand sculpture contests at the beach. I’m amazed by them. They can take hours, if not most of a day to build. Some rowdy kids or a wave can destroy them in minutes. George W. Bush, who had something of a head start from Ronald Reagan, trampled over traditional American ideals of justice. law and morality. Over the course of fifty years of dedication from uber conservatives, regardless of wining or losing this or that election or losing ground on a particular issue, the far Right political machine, remained devoted to the cause of a form of soft fascism, crony capitalism, eliminationism, corruption, misogyny, greed and the repeal of every progressive piece of legislation that has made us a nation that the world envied. Moderate to liberal voters are perplexed to angry that President Obama cannot rebuild and undo all the damage in one year. Liberals impatience is relatively easy to deal with compared to the collective short memory of Republicans and independents. 2000 to 2008? Never happened. They’ve either gone for the complete psychological denial make-over – the lipstick on a pig phenomenon in plain view – the tea baggers. Or they’re just ordinary dipsticks that do not have the character to own up to their role as enablers – Newt Gingrich, Michelle Malkin, the freepers, Bill O’Reilly, The National Review, Fox News in general, the RNC, Michael Steele and on and on. Whoever said everything is political had some insights, but they didn’t go deep enough. Everything is managed perception and psychology. Thus we’re at the point where Conservatives claim over and over after a mere 365 days that this president is a disaster and the country is going to hell in a hand basket and many liberals give a slightly distorted echo of the same message. It’s not the liberal critics who are part of the problem, it’s the way they shape the message. The message is hyperbolic. Take a lesson from conservatives. Bush’s poll numbers were not great until 9-11, after which they stayed up until about the second year of his second term. Even as Bush became a pariah the criticism from the Right never reached the fever pitch liberals now attack Obama ( Regardless of Bush’s repeated catastrophic screw-ups the Right defended him). I’m not suggesting that kind of cult of personality for Obama, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi – the issue is, has constructive criticism become a lost art. With today’s election in Massachusetts in mind, some liberals might want to rediscover that fine art of pointing out fault without setting the ship on fire.  Towards the end of this column is an example of what I mean, Obama’s green achievements at 100 days. Here’s some good achievements, here’s some items which could use some improvement. No use of the phrases Bush-lite or Bush’s third term. There is a liberal blog that I read a few times a week that opened one post with, and I paraphrase, the claim President Obama had accomplished nothing, nil, nada. There have been times over the past few months, because of both the tea baggers and some liberals, that I have wished McCain would have won. We’d still be in Iraq ( maybe for a thousand years – Obama is adhering to a withdrawal timetable) and Afghanistan. There would be “nada” health care reform. We would still have had TARP and some kind of stimulus package – and knowing McCain’s grasp of economics – the country would not be hanging on the cliff edge on the verge of a shaky recovery, we’d be in the gutter.

I may never forgive Andrew Sullivan for at one time being part of the Bush cult, but as of late he seems more rational then he used to be, Obama’s Substantive First Year II

“From the moment he gave his election night victory speech, Obama has been signaling great caution in the face of immense challenges. The tone is humble… He is not a messiah and does not act or speak like one. He’s a traditionalist in many ways.”

A year on, that seems like a good call to me. Those on the left who foolishly saw him as a revolutionary are in a major sulk right now. Those on the right who still see him as a leftist ideologue keep railing against the reality in front of their eyes – as if contemplating a small-c conservative black Democratic president is too much for their brains to grasp. To those who hadn’t observed or read or listened closely enough to Obama, the first year therefore remains a baffling record. But to my mind, it is almost exactly what I expected and yet much more than I could have hoped for.

Obama is a liberal pragmatist in politics and a traditional conservative in his understanding of the presidency. Once you grasp this, his first year makes much more sense.

He has marshalled conservative constitutional norms – against the radical claims of Bush and Cheney with respect to the presidency – in defense of a liberal restoration of the importance of government. This has made for a frustrating year for those who want instant results – because he has often deferred to Congress; or those who want short-term tactical political coups – because he prefers strategy to tactics. But for anyone taking the long view, it is hard to see where Obama has really gone wrong.

After this paragraph Sully goes on to make the Obama is not cleaning up the mess that conservatives like Andrew had a hand in making fast enough doggerel.

The Libertarian candidate in Massachusetts may be the Brown spoiler.

Stuart Varney Plays Health Care Hack at Fox Propaganda Network

On Fox & Friends, Fox business contributor Stuart Varney claimed President Obama is “wrong” to believe health care reform legislation will reduce the deficit and added, “You’re going to have 10 years of taxes, and you’re only going to have six years of benefits in that first 10 years. You’re rigging the numbers to make it look like it’s going to be financially beneficial.” However, the most recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyses of the health care reform bills estimate that the legislation will not only reduce deficits through 2019, but will continue to reduce deficits in the subsequent decade.

Lots of U.S. GDP goes down the hole because of health care costs. Once again Democrats have a plan to save money, help business growth, create jobs and some Democrats are reluctant to use those facts. Progressives (and Obama) are Doing Better Than We Think — and We Won’t Know What We’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Big Blue Water Drop wallpaper

Big Blue Water Drop wallpaper

I was rereading this article by NPR – CQ: Obama’s Winning Streak On Hill Unprecedented – after Eleanor Clift did a column based on the story and the lessons President Obama can learn –  A Modern-Day LBJ? – A study finds Barack Obama has the highest legislative success rate of any president in recent history.

Obama has been no different from his predecessors in that he’s always ready to send a firm message to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue as he “urges members of Congress” to come together and act. All presidents demand specific action by Congress — or at least they ask for it. But when you look at the votes of 2009 in which Obama made his preference clear, his success rate was unprecedented, according to John Cranford of Congressional Quarterly.

“His success was 96.7 percent on all the votes where we said he had a clear position in both the House and the Senate. That’s an extraordinary number,” Cranford says.

The previous high scores were held by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, with 93 percent, and Dwight Eisenhower, who scored 89 percent in 1953. Cranford notes that George W. Bush’s score hit the high 80s in 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But Obama surpassed them all, Cranford says.(from the CQ link)

The giant yea but in the room is that score is due to Obama picking his battles. The Cons quote it in hopes of scoring cheap political points, while liberals do so cynically – so what about the public option is the biggest complaint followed by escalating troops in Afghanistan. Clift seems to think its time for presidential humility. Presidents regardless of circumstances – LBJ had a Democratic majority, but many of those were very conservative anti-integration Dixiecrats that would later become conservative – have obstacles to overcome. Democrats would be sailing through a moderate to progressive agenda is we didn’t have a dysfunctional set of Senate rules. Where Clift scans the landscape and sees the virtue of moderation, why not a moment of clarity from the President and Rahm Emmanuel that there is no reason to reach out for bipartisanship. Why not assume this will be Obama’s first and last term and push for every thing on the Democratic wish list. Democrats approval numbers are not great, but Republicans stay in the basement.

One obvious omission from a legislative scorecard is a judicial scorecard. Instead of another Antonin Scalia – a certainty had there been a McCain-Palin administration, we have Justice Sotomayer. The president has a fair judicial appointee record that could be better if Senate Republicans were not abusing holds to stall appointments and if the administration would stop avoiding fights ( some of which can be attributed to the health care reform battle) and the foot-dragging. Judges are as important a legacy as legislative accomplishments. Obama’s secound year will probably see a larger number of appointees. Moderate judges with genuine American values that will be around regardless of what happens in 2012.

Hack extraordinaire, the National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez cannot win the hospital and patient rights debate regarding Massachusetts Senate Candidate Martha Coakley without doing exactly what far right zealots like Red Mass Group, Big Journalism, RedState, Hot Air and The Anchoress have done – put words in Coakley’s  mouth. What kind of person lies about a “conscience issue”?

In fact, Coakley said that if you refuse to provide legal medical services to rape victims, you probably shouldn’t work in an emergency room.  Lopez cut off the quote before that was clear, suggesting instead that Coakley’s position is simply that Catholics shouldn’t work in emergency rooms.

There is a massive difference between what Coakley said and what Kathryn Jean Lopez claims Coakley said.  Just enormous. Lopez suggests Coakley’s position is “Catholics need not apply”; in fact, Coakley’s position is more like “people who don’t want to do the job shouldn’t take it.” It says something about Lopez’ confidence in the merits of her own position that she feels the need to dishonestly portray Coakley’s.

In the National Review’s world you go to an emergency room and you’re screened by religion. If they can find a doctor, radiologists and a nurse that agrees with your religious views you get treatment, if not suffer, die or find another emergency room. A position that Senate candidate Scott Brown has shown sympathies for.

Brown is also a member of the right-wing smears and wacko conspiracies club, Scott Brown thought maybe Obama was born out of wedlock. He’ll fit right in with Mitch McConnell(R-KY) and James Inhofe(R-OK)

Tea Party Nation, Inc. owner Judson Phillips – “I want to make a million dollars from this movement.” The new conservative movement seems a lot like the old conservative movement. They’re just a little more unhinged.

In Brown Versus Attorney General Martha Coakley, Conservatives Display Usual Lack of Principle

Glowing City Skyline wallpaper

According to conservative blogs Scott Brown can just skip the official vote tally and be sworn in today for the Senate race in Massachusetts. TPM/Research 2000 has Attorney General Martha Coakley(D) ahead by 8%. While Nate Silver is calling it a toss-up. As I was scanning the extreme right conservative blogs ( there does not appear to be anything resembling a moderate conservative blog) many are fascinated by this juiced up controversy of the day: A Brown supporting blog out of Massachusetts actually has this in quotations. Which for those that made it through the sixth grade means it supposed to be what someone actually said, Coakley: “You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room”

Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.

Martha Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.

Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Martha Coakley: (…stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.

To the right-wing fringe, “You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room” – a reference made in regards a patient’s rights versus what a caretaker might believe is twisted by the Red Mass Group conservative blog as meaning that Coakley does not believe in the First Amendment. Typical propaganda twisting by someone who has no real knowledge of the country they live in or the wall that protects us all, regardless of religious beliefs from the tyranny of another religious group. This is what Scott Brown supporters – Red Mass Group, Big Journalism, RedState, The Natural Truth, Weasel Zippers, Hot Air and The Anchoress believe. One, that a hospital employee’s beliefs trump the proper care for a patient. A patient’s religious beliefs are be trampled in deference to the religion of the hospital or the hospital’s employees. Those familiar with the wall that separates church and state, a wall that thank goodness Attorney General Coakley is familiar with, says you cannot force your religion on a hospital patient. If someone has that kind of zealot’s mind-set on health-care in a modern U.S. hospital, a medical related career is something you might want to think about long and hard. This doctor refused to treat a child because the infant’s mother had tattoos. So when a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan, who has tattoos, is refused medical treatment – do you think these same Brown supporting right-wing Republicans are going to side against the vet. We can also assume these same Brown supporters ( an important point since Brown claims to be a moderate) would force an adult Jehovah’s Witnesses to have a blood transfusion regardless of their wishes simply because the hospital employee, of another faith, believes medical circumstances dictate they should. Most doctors and hospitals take Medicare, Medicaid and veterans health benefits so they are obligated to adhere to legal precedent in treating patients without prejudice. I could say that I have never read so much unthinking, drooling, stupid, historically ignorant trash in my life, but that would be a lie. I read them every time I visit a conservative blog. They do not have principles, they have a rhetorical bat to beat the adversary or issue of the day, then back pedal like fanatics to rationalize a position on which they have spun like tops.

Joan Walsh notes once again the Beltway’s herd mentality, I’m reading “Game Change,” and I can’t help wondering about sourcing holes — and why women are the worst villains

I wrote then about my discomfort with the book’s mostly anonymous sourcing – there is no index or source notes – as well as its strange practice of “quoting” inflammatory statements in mere sentence fragments, without full context, and Heilemann and Halperin’s Bob Woodward-like zest for recreating thoughts and conversations they couldn’t have been a party to. (I particularly enjoyed the opening scene, set in Obama’s room at a Des Moines Hampton Inn just before the Iowa caucuses, when the candidate woke up anxious in the middle of the night, feeling like “the dog that caught the bus.” Were they there? Now that’s a story!) I have the book, and I’m making my way through it, but I’m surprised more people aren’t asking the questions I have about it. ( emphasis mine)

“Ministers of the Gospel are excluded [from serving as Visitors of the county Elementary Schools] to avoid jealousy from the other sects, were the public education committed to the ministers of a particular one; and with more reason than in the case of their exclusion from the legislative and executive functions.” –Thomas Jefferson: Note to Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:419

“[If] the nature of… government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.” –Thomas Jefferson to Pierrepont Edwards, July 1801.

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.” –Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78

Join the sheeple, vote for Scott.

Brown hasn’t shown courage needed to stand tall in Senate

We’ve already had a good early test of Brown’s inclination there, and it’s been on health-care reform. If he were really an iconoclast, Brown could easily say this: Look, I have enough doubts about the legislation that I will vote against it, but I’m not going to support a filibuster to keep it from even coming to the floor.

That’s not what he’s done, however. Instead, Brown has campaigned on his eagerness to deny the bill’s supporters the last vote they could need to overcome a filibuster and bring the legislation to a vote.

Problem number two: Even as a candidate, Brown hasn’t displayed the courage such a doughty role would require. We saw a good demonstration of that failing in Monday’s debate, and on a matter he himself brought up. Asked about spiraling entitlement costs, Brown said he liked an idea that is gaining popularity among deficit hawks: establishing a bipartisan commission that, like base-closing commissions, would present recommendations to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

Now, any sober budget analyst will tell you that, given the magnitude of our fiscal problems, a realistic plan will require both spending cuts and new revenues. But when moderator David Gergen asked Brown if he would support such a commission’s recommendations if they included tax increases, Brown said no. That’s hardly the portrait of an elected official prepared to stand tall.

Brown would fit in Bush’s shadow perfectly – why let anything even come to vote.